Chicons au Gratin

Belgian Endives au Gratin

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Appears in

A Canon of Vegetables

A Canon of Vegetables

By Raymond Sokolov

Published 2007

  • About

In an embellished version of this dish, the endives are wrapped in ham at the end of step 2. Many recipes call for prosciutto, but why not preserve the regional spirit of the dish and look for a ham from the Ardennes, the region straddling the French-Belgian border famous also as the site of the Battle of the Bulge* and the birthplace of Rimbaud at Charleville.


  • 6 tablespoons butter, approximately
  • 8 endives, with root ends trimmed away
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • cups milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • ½ cup dried bread crumbs


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a gratin dish or other ovenproof dish just large enough to hold the endives in a single layer. Arrange the endives in it.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small, heavy skillet over low heat. When the foam subsides, whisk in the flour and continue whisking for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cream. Continue cooking and whisking until this béchamel sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese, salt, and pepper.
  4. Pour the sauce over the endives. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs.
  5. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and pour over the bread crumbs.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the bread crumbs are a golden brown. Serve immediately.

*This was the final great battle of World War II, which began on December, 16, 1944, and ended January 25, 1945. The bloody encounter culminated at Bastogne in Belgium near the German border.

†Arthur Rimbaud (1854–1891), prodigal, decadent poet, lashed out in his early works at the provincial world he was born into and soon escaped to a far worse place, the Arabian desert.

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